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Dominic Lobalu, first Generali Running Talent

Dominic Lobalu is the running talent with iron will, refining his craft through sweat, blood and tears. He came to Switzerland in 2019. Here, he was discovered by Tadesse Abraham, the fastest Swiss marathon runner and Generali Switzerland ambassador. His very promising performances at various Swiss competitions have now earned him sponsorship as a Generali Running Talent. We are proud to financially support young athletes from a refugee background with this new programme. We want to encourage them to achieve their sporting dreams and goals. 

Photo credits : Urs Siegwart

« Ask yourself what you want. Believe in yourself. And follow your goal with all of your heart. If you believe from your heart, it will work out. This will give you the will and the power you need. »

Who is Dominic Lobalu?

 

Dominic Lokinyomo Lobalu was born on 16 August 1998 in the small village of Chukudum in South Sudan. At just nine years of age, he had to flee his country due to civil war. He first found refuge in the Kenyan town of Kakuma. As an orphan, he attended a primary school in the region of Nairobi. At the age of 15, supported by his teacher, he began running. He quickly made a name for himself and became part of the Kenya Refugee Athletes team. In 2017, he took part in the World Athletics Championships in London. Two years later, he accompanied the same team at the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef. He used this opportunity to leave Kenya and settle in Switzerland. In the Canton of St. Gallen, he became a member of the LC Brühl athletics club, working with Markus Hagmann as his coach.

 

Dominic is a cheerful young man. His beaming smile is infectious. He attributes his excellent results across all distances to his natural talent for running and his unshakeable will. He has already enjoyed extraordinary success and there will be even more reason to celebrate in the coming months. 

Sporting success

  • 3,000m in 7:49.31 in Meilen at Meeting Meilen
  • 5,000m in 13:34.18 in Lucerne at the World Athletics Continental Tour Silver Level Series
  • 10,000m in 28:32.72 in Uster at the Swiss Championships
  • Half marathon in 1:03:52 in Belp at the Swiss Half Marathon Championships

 

 

Dominic, did you ever dream of becoming a professional runner?

No, absolutely not. As a young boy I used to dream of playing football. But back then all of my friends wanted to be a footballer. It was my teacher that advised me to run. In the end, he convinced me. So I started running. I was 15 years old.

 

Tell us a bit about your career and your arrival in Switzerland.

I was born in South Sudan. I lived there for a few years. Unfortunately, the political situation there was critical so I had to flee my homeland. I then lived in Kenya as a refugee for over ten years. That is where I started running for sport and became a member of the Kenya Refugee Athletes team. This team was recognised by the International Olympic Committee and I was able to take part in international competitions. In May 2019, I took part in the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef in Switzerland and then stayed here. It wasn’t easy but various centres for asylum seekers in Vallorbe and Chiasso took me on. I had to prove my willingness and ability to become a professional runner. They put me in contact with my trainer Markus Hagmann. On 13 August 2019, three days before my 21st birthday, I moved to St. Gallen. Now I’m a member of the LC Brühl athletics club. I’m also attending a language school.

 

How did you become a Generali Running Talent?

I met Tadesse Abraham several times over the last few months at races in Switzerland. He approached me and we got to know each other. Tadesse told me about the THSN Refugee Team. He also put me in touch with Generali Switzerland. I’m excited to start training and get to know other runners. I already know the co-trainer in Zurich, Abdi Salam Ali, and I look forward to seeing him again.

 

What is your current goal?

My goal for a few years now has been to break records. I also want to be the first refugee to win medals at the biggest international competitions. Of course, I want to continue to stay in Switzerland too and just live off my passion.

 

What message would you like to give to young refugees?

Ask yourself what you want. Believe in yourself. And follow your goal with all of your heart. If you believe from your heart, it will work out. This will give you the will and the power you need.

 

GENERALI RUNNING TALENT

The best runners in the THSN Refugee Team receive Generali Running Talent status and benefit from intensive support. Generali Switzerland supports these athletes with running know-how, providing them with regular running coaching, individual training plans and offering them the opportunity to take part in a training camp in the Engadin valley. Generali Running Talents can also take part in numerous workshops that help them on their way to a running career: from dealing with the media and looking for professional sponsorships to support in running their own social media channels. Generali Switzerland also provides financial support for the talents.